By Daniel J. Kushner
As trailblazers in the American fight for women's rights go, Victoria Woodhull is likely the most underrated. An indispensable historical figure, Woodhull was the first woman to run for the office of United States President — all the way back in 1872. And yet school textbooks and other documentary narratives have by-and-large neglected her story. Woodhull is the subject of a 2012 opera — composed by Victoria Bond with a libretto by Hilary Bell — that will be presented this week by The Lyric Theater CoOPERAtive.
Woodhull's story has sociopolitical relevance today, both here in Rochester as the home of Susan B. Anthony and to our nation as a whole, which has yet to elect a woman to the highest office in the land, more than 140 years after Woodhull's run. Presented as part of the centennial celebration of women's voting rights in New York State, the production will feature soprano Valerie Bernhardt as Victoria Woodhull.
"Mrs. President" will be performed on Saturday, November 18, at The Lyric Theatre, 440 East Avenue. 7 p.m. $25-$50. 256-0444; lyrictheatrerochester.org; mrspresidenttheopera.com.